06/07/2006 11:00PM

Barbaro's hospital gets public funds

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Sabina Louise Pierce/Univ. of Pennsylvania
From left: Dr. Joan Hendricks, dean of veterinary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Barbaro's surgeon,Dr. Dean Richardson, and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell visit the patient on Thursday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Had Barbaro won the Preakness Stakes following the Kentucky Derby, he would have been attempting to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 in the on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Instead, he continues to recuperate at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., where he underwent extensive surgery May 21 to repair his shattered right hind leg.

Barbaro needed a plate and 27 screws to fuse the lower portion of his right hind leg. He continues to wear the same cast applied the day of the surgery. His surgeon, Dr. Dean Richardson, said Barbaro could wear the cast for up to three weeks, which would put him into next week as long as he continues to do well.

"He still has his original cast. He's wearing it well," Dr. Corinne Sweeney of New Bolton said Thursday.

Also on Thursday, spokeswoman Gail Luciani of New Bolton reported that Barbaro's attending medical team said Barbaro was especially frisky, displaying interest in mares that are also at the hospital.

Barbaro last week was visited by jockey Edgar Prado, who said it was a "relief" to see how well Barbaro was doing. On Thursday, Barbaro was visited by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who is an avid racing fan.

Rendell gave Jim Riepe, the president of the University of Pennsylvania's Board of Trustees, a check for $13.5 million for the New Bolton Center. The gift is the first time public money will be used to improve New Bolton, and will be used for the first major expansion since New Bolton was founded in 1964.

The funds, according to a press release, are to be used toward the completion of new medical facilities at New Bolton, including a new isolation building, a colic barn, and a chemical digestion facility.

The isolation building will provide added biosecurity for the treatment of infectious disease. The colic barn is for the specialized treatment of horses with a variety of high-risk abdominal conditions. The chemical digestion facility will utilize new technology to safely dispose of infectious waste.

"The money is an investment in Pennsylvania's ability to treat animals from across the country," Rendell said.

Rendell said Barbaro is "in the best hands here."

"The New Bolton Center provides round-the-clock care and world-class facilities," Rendell said. "This, combined with the high level of expertise of the veterinarians, means our Derby champion is in the best place he can be for the road to recovery."